Household Headship and Nutritional Status: Female-Headed Versus Male/Dual-Headed Households

Lisa K. Staten, Darna L. Dufour, Julio C. Reina, G. B. Spurr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Approximately one-third of all poor urban households in Latin America are headed by females. This study compares the nutritional status of women and children from female-headed (FHH) and male/dual headed (MHH/DHH) households in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in Cali, Colombia. Data collected included socioeconomic indicators, anthropometric dimensions, dietary intake, and interviews documenting household composition. Classification of household headship was based on the acknowledged head and the primary economic provider of the household. Of the households in this study, 81 (80%) were from MHH/DHHs and 20 (20%) from FHHs. FHHs had fewer material possessions and lived in houses made of less expensive materials compared to MHH/DHHs. However, there were no significant differences in the nutritional status of women or children in FHHs vs MHH/DHHs. Most women had BMIs within the normal range (19-29 kg/m2). The majority of children (95%) had weight-for-height z-scores within ±2 of the NCHS references. These results suggest that while FHHs in Cali were economically poorer, the women studied appeared to have had access to sufficient food sources for themselves and their children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-709
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics

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